Newark mayor and Senate candidate Cory Booker is announcing today that he will be stepping down from the board of the company that he founded last year, according to a source familiar with the campaign’s plans. The departure leaves just one of Waywire’s three co-founders at the company, which is still in private beta and in search of a new CEO.
The decision to step down from the Waywire board was widely expected, as some political opponents questioned Booker’s continued involvement in the startup. Booker had previously said he would step down from Waywire’s board if elected, but this accelerates those plans as he moves ahead with his political campaign. Along with his departure from the board, Booker will be donating his shares in the company to charity.
Booker’s decision comes at a difficult time for Waywire, which has yet to publicly launch its product. The announcement comes on the heels of Waywire co-founder and CEO Nathan Richardson leaving the company last month. Richardson, who had previously held executive positions at Content Next Media and Gilt Groupe, joined TechCrunch parent company AOL, where he will be leading the soon-to-be-launched AOL Live video channel.
According to a Waywire spokesperson, the company is very close to bringing on a new CEO who will likely be announced in the coming weeks. That’s good news, especially as the company is in the midst of a pivot from content creation to a platform for video curation. In the meantime, co-founder Sarah Ross has been running day-to-day operations.
Other good news for Waywire: the company has secured an extension of its seed round from four new investors, although it’s not yet ready to announce how much was raised or who participated. (Those details will probably come out at the same time that it announces the new CEO.) The company had originally raised $1.75 million from First Round Capital, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter, and other angels.
All that said, Waywire has its work cut out for it, as it’s still in private beta 18 months after Booker, Richardson, and Ross founded the company together. That’s partly the result of a change in strategy at Waywire. Originally, the company had hoped to challenge traditional media outlets by creating and distributing its own videos and those of its users. But it’s pivoted to become more of a platform for collecting and curating videos from multiple sources.
We’ll see how Waywire fares when it’s ready to launch its product. With a new CEO and new funding, and without the questions about Booker’s involvement, that should happen in the coming months.